REPOSTED: THIS VICTORIA’S SECRET MODEL IS DOING A 180 FROM HER DAYS AS AN ANGEL

by: ALISON FELLER via http://www.wellandgood.com

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As a Victoria’s Secret model, Erin Heatherton was one of the wing-adorned “angels” stalking runways in lingerie and flashing her pearly whites on billboards, buses, and beyond in the name of the brand. But now she admits life with Victoria’s Secret wasn’t always as chill and Swarovski-studded as it may have seemed—she faced serious body image struggles during her time with the bra-and-panty brand, Time reports.

“My last two Victoria’s Secret shows, I was told I had to lose weight,” she tells Time. “I look back like, ‘Really?’” Heatherton, who walked in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show from 2008 to 2013, left the brand three years ago when, in spite of working hard, eating healthy, and exercising twice a day, she says her body “just wouldn’t do it.”

I was really depressed because I was working so hard and I felt like my body was resisting me,” she says. “And I got to a point where one night I got home from a workout and I remember staring at my food and thinking maybe I should just not eat.” After walking away from the runway, Heatherton came to a startling realization: “I realized I couldn’t go out into the world—parading my body and myself in front of all these women who look up to me—and tell them that this is easy and simple and everyone can do this,” she says.

Via Heather’s Instagram:

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The breakdown to breakthrough moment in my life has allowed me to become the truest version of myself. In my moment of “failure,” I stood in the face of adversity. I was struggling with my body image and the pressures to fulfill the demands of perfectionism upon me. I am not perfect. Through this struggle, however, I found the strength to love myself. I stood in my power. I thought of one of my favorite quotes, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a men’s character, give him power” – Abraham Lincoln. I look back on that moment now, and I embrace it. This feeling I once perceived as “failure” was, in truth, a powerful awakening for me to stand behind my purpose in life. I stepped away from hiding behind a fabricated version of myself. I no longer put actions behind my fears and insecurities. I made a choice to redirect my energy to be a catalyst for change. To create a channel for women to become the truest versions of themselves, along with me. (Stay tuned for more…) In the end, if you aren’t being true to yourself, then what the fuck is the point. #rebelwacause #empowerment #womensempowerment#empoweredbyyou

Now, the always-athletic supermodel (she played on her high school’s varsity basketball team, according to the Sun Times), is using her platform to spread awareness in hopes of helping other women. “I’m willing to sacrifice my pride, in a sense, and my privacy because I know that if I don’t speak about it, I could be withholding information that would really help women,” she says. “It hurts too much to keep it in, and that’s why I’m not keeping it in now.”

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ESPY’s Highlight – Caitlyn Jenner

by: Alicia M. Blanco

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I wrote an article a while ago about Bruce Jenner- and I got a wave of responses to it. Everything from people who absolutely support and respect the transition, and others who are completely bothered and disgusted by it.

Whether or not you agree with what’s happening here, I think its important to acknowledge that the world we live in today is so much more diverse than its ever been before. I’m actually pretty excited to be living during such a unique time period as this.

Last night at the ESPYs, Caitlyn Jenner was presented with the Arthur Ashe award for COURAGE. Her acceptance speech obviously made me super emotional and I wanted to defend her today as I’m seeing a lot of people posting about how undeserving she is of such a prestigious award.

To me, courage comes in all different forms. From our military and armed forces who bravely defend our country day in and day out, to the kid at school who bravely defends his classmate being bullied – courage can be seen in many different ways.

Personally, I find Caitlyn’s story to be incredibly courageous and her award, completely deserved.

Imagine living your life with a miserable state of mind, just like Bruce was doing. Bruce hid behind a façade of masculinity and athleticism in order to distract him from his inner most thoughts – that he was actually a she. Imagine spending over six decades with a secret such as this and then, under a magnifying glass, making the very brave decision to open up to the entire WORLD about it.

Taking on an entirely new identity while the world watches, criticizes, ridicules, judges, and follows your every step has to be traumatic. And it takes major courage to do it anyway. My friend Terri said it perfectly today. She told me:

“every advance we ever make in this country starts with one person standing up and willing to take a beating from the public to shine a light on their cause—racism, women’s rights, gay rights and now transgenderism…”

Spot on, Terri.

It starts with one.

One person to stand up for what they believe in; Or one person to open up about their stories. Being relatable, approachable and vulnerable is courageous – Its being human in the most authentic form and not pretending everything is so damn perfect all of the time.

Caitlyn is doing it for the benefit of her own inner happiness and also for the countless others living today who struggle with gender identity.

Don’t tell me that’s not courageous.

(And I can’t even hate on her look last night either. Versace! HELLO! WERK, honey.)

My wish is that we can all live in a more accepting world. Why is it that when something good happens, (someone winning an award, for example) there has to be soooooo many people to instantly criticize it and find the problems with it instead? It’s almost depressing to open up my social media and see all the hate. It hasn’t even been 24 hours, people! I just want this to be a world where everyone can just be themselves and not feel sorry about it.

With that being said, I also want this to be a world where we can all respect each others varying opinions. What a boring world this would be if we all were on the same exact page about everything. So I’m not over here suggesting we all suppress our opinions on what’s going on in society, but rather, I am encouraging more love and kindness. That’s it. The old rule is “if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.” But I would like to change that because I realize we shouldn’t subscribe to saying nothing at all. It’s just HOW YOU SAY IT that can make an impact…

I think we are here in this world to help each other out. And if you can’t help someone, just please, don’t hurt them.

The Tragedy That Saved My Life

by: Tiphany Adams

Imagine yourself growing up in the countryside of Northern California with every kind of farm animal possible, engaging in activities that emphasized more on union with family and the outdoors than exterior beauty.  But by the time I was 8 years old, my parents divorced & my father began raising my sister and I outside of our countryside comfort zone. Around the time I hit middle school I started to struggle with self-esteem issues especially because of a birth mark on my neck. I began to get painfully teased & ridiculed based on my appearance.  I begged to have it removed for every birthday & Christmas. I would hide myself in sweats & turtle necks even in 100 degree heat. I even went as far to try to scrap it off. I planned how to hide it on the day I would get asked to prom or the day I would eventually get engaged.

Major trauma had occurred around that time period that stripped me of every ounce of self-esteem I had left. It lead me down a destructive path and eventually I ended up with more emotional pain then I knew what to do with.

I began praying and asking for guidance and even chose to get myself baptized at the age of 15. But by the time I entered into my senior year of high school I had already attended 5 different schools while dealing with so many issues. I felt lost without anyone to turn to. My mother had gotten herself wrapped up into her own addictions during this time as well. It was a mess.

And then there was the moment that changed my life forever.

I was in the backseat of a car with a sober driver that was struck head on by a drunk driver causing a collision of 130 mph–all were pronounced dead on the scene. I remember asking God to please let me live through this… and He did. They air lifted me to the hospital with a 5% chance of survival & I was induced into a coma for 3 weeks. When I awoke I knew I was alive for a purpose & had a divine mission to fulfill. The tragedy left 3 lives taken because of one persons decision to drink & drive, but the blessing is that I am here to relay a message of truth.

The first day I got into my wheelchair was emotional- words could not begin to depict what I felt. When I looked in the mirror for the first time seeing the big medal wheels, I cried in disbelief as I felt tingling throughout my legs as if they were asleep…and would never wake up. And that’s when clarity came…I remembered back to the time when I wouldn’t wear my hair up in a ponytail because of a birth mark…and here I was now. How would I get over the reflection I see staring back at me? How will society treat me? Then I came to the realization that it all begins with self acceptance & self-love & I began a beautiful journey of self discovery.

From that day forward I continued to embrace myself with love, support,  & prayer.

Had this tragedy never happened, it is likely that I would’ve remained dead inside. So in a way, this tragedy saved my life and made me see the world differently.

What it comes down to is we all have obstacles & tragedies that can change our situations but when we remove the superficial and connect to every living being on a soul to soul level we know we are all here on this earthly place for a divine reason… to give love & receive love. I share my story with you in hopes to gift you with love & acceptance for where you are right in this very moment.

Embrace your life! Focus on your inner beauty now and always.

What’s Hott and What’s Not

by: Rikayah Crawford

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The girl that you see to your left in the picture was a bit chubby, insecure, and did not understand her inner beauty. That’s the girl who tried to take her own life.

The confident young woman you see to the right is the exact opposite. In that picture I understand that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I now understand the love I have for myself from within overflows into my outward appearance. Loving yourself is what’s hot. But obsessing over your appearance is not.

The world we live in today has shattered the authentic meaning of self-esteem and confidence. It has been dismantled by the misconceptions from the media, peers, celebrities (and really good filters.) The theory of “what’s hot and what’s not” has invaded the impressionable minds of young girls. As a result, many young women have referred to self-esteem as “feeling good” about themselves while others equate esteem to arrogance, conceit and egotism.  Damned if we do and damned if we don’t take a selfie!

Often times we embody the reflections and opinions of those around us.  It’d be nice if there was an instruction manual for how to overcome the tough times and judgments of others. In my life I’ve had lots of those tough times- hardships in my relationships, insecurities around other women, and ultimately the contemplation of committing suicide.

There was a moment in my life when I hit rock bottom due to the overwhelming insecurities I felt about the way I looked and interacted with others.  I had allowed the opinions of others about me to become my reality. Worst of all, I had blamed every problem and insecurity on myself. I was so hard on myself. Every day I struggled to look in the mirror.

It was the morning after the night I attempted to take my own life that I realized that I wanted more for my life than so much attention to be on my physical reflection.  And it was clear I survived that dark night for a purpose.

If I wanted to be successful, it had to begin with the renewing of my mind and making changes from within rather than analyzing so much about my exterior.

My parents always told me, “Rikayah, every gift that God has blessed you with and everything that you go through is not only for you but for you to share with someone else.” I didn’t see it at the time, but now I see how my story can help other women who might be able to relate to body image, depression and suicide.

By surrounding myself around positive and uplifting people and focusing on my inner beauty it enabled me to pick myself back up and begin again. As a result of focusing on my inner self, the rest of me started to transform, too. Today I love the skin i’m in, without a filter, without comparing myself to others, and truthfully without giving a damn about what others think.

Even though I have endured some heavy stuff in the short time God has granted me, I know I have a purpose and I plan to live out. If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please encourage them to seek help TODAY. It’s never too late to transform your mind.

3 Ways Focusing on Inner Beauty is Healthy For Your Heart

by: Zera McMahon

After battling with an eating disorder for several years I’ve learned how giving more attention to one’s own inner beauty is healthy for the human heart in several ways. Here are three main ways you’ll benefit from giving more attention to your inner beauty instead of focusing on the way you look.

1) Inner beauty is not only nurturing for your own heart, but for the hearts of others as well.

I have always felt that the two {inner beauty & the heart} are largely connected; perhaps a direct reflection of the other. One of the greatest ways to delight an empty heart or soul is with acts of gentleness
and love. Help yourself by helping other people, and be instantly rewarded with an immense sense of gratification and love. Your inner beauty will flourish with selfless acts of kindness, as this is one of the best ways to pass the love around and welcome it back with an open heart.

Within the last year, Iʼve made it a habit of reaching out to complete strangers by involving them in conversation. For example…a couple of weeks ago I was in HomeDepot trying to get a swatch of paint matched for our living room. It was late in the evening, and the lady who was helping me behind the counter was exhausted and just being a total grouch. As much as I wanted to walk away from her negative attitude, Idecided to talk to her anyway and ignore the menacing glances she was giving me. So, I set a mental challenge for myself and made it my goal to lighten her mood. I began asking her questions pertaining to work and showed compassion for all of the un-paid overtime she was putting in. Before I knew it, we were sharing stories about our families, the holiday season, and even exchanging tips on our favorite nail polishes, etc.

My plan had worked! Just from acknowledging this individual whom I had never met before and by striking up a conversation, I was able to help give her laughter and enjoyment, and improve her overall state of mind.

Not only did this lady walk away with a smile on her face, but so did I. Lets face it, the last thing I wanted to be doing at 10pm was hanging out in Home Depotʼs paint department. This challenge I set for myself gave me almost instant happiness and fulfillment. It feels incredible to have such a positive impact on another individual!

Too often we obsess about our own physical beauty, and critically measure our “beauty”against other women. The mainstream media is constantly trying to sell us illusions of the “perfect body” and lifestyle that we can achieve only if purchasing their products.

They really think we can be fooled, but I know that as women we are stronger and capable of more. We donʼt need to strive for a perfect body or prettier face. When we do this, we are not truly in touch with our inner beauty. What we genuinely need is each other. Coming together peacefully with open hearts, appreciating others (and ourselves) for more than physical appearances; that is when we create and promote inner beauty that is infectious.

The media is failing to communicate the importance of nourishing the authentic self. Instead of measuring our self worth on physical traits, genuine self worth is measured from the inside out. When you cherish and manifest your inner beauty, your physical appearance is sure to be positively influenced when your heart radiates from within.

2) You’ll discover your inspiration & creativity…

When we realize and cherish our inner beauty, we are consciously granting ourselves the permission to be open and accepting to the beauty and talents around us.

Speaking from experience, I understand that the search for that “magical something” to ignite our inspiration is not always so simple. When I find myself in a mental slump, it can be really tough to pull myself out of it. One thing I have learned though, is that the inspiration I crave will always emerge when I least expect it. This sometimes take days to happen, but when it does I am shaken out of my slump and my spirit is instantly lifted and renewed with a sense of hope.

Sometimes, deviating from my typical routine can help ʻcureʼ me of the blues. Itʼs so easy to get ourselves caught in routine, stuck in the same motions day after day. I have to almost force myself out of it at times. What I like to do when this happens is to go somewhere ʻspur-of-the-momentʼ; somewhere I donʼt typically make the time to visit. I like to call these, ʻmini adventure daysʼ. This can be anything from checking out a museum downtown, taking a walk around a nature preserve to feed the ducks, treating myself to a movie (by myself), or indulging in an Oreo blizzard from Dairy Queen. These things may seem a little ridiculous, but itʼs what helps me to get outside of myself and the destructive thinking patterns.

Inspiration stimulates our heart and soul. It can be that mini miracle we need to get us back on track to creating opportunities and realizing our dreams.

3) It builds a beautiful and healthy life…

Its been said that positive attracts positive, and negative attracts negative. The same goes for people holding onto positive and negative thoughts. I am a total believer in this theory, and I have applied it as a general rule to my life, involving the people I surround myself with.

Have you ever felt completely empowered and delighted by something, only to then have that excitement be ripped away from you by someone with a negative mindset? I have definitely experienced this, and at times would find myself powerless and unable to shed myself of those negative feelings.

This is not only counteractive to strengthen your confidence and inner beauty ʻpowerhouseʼ, but is also very toxicant. After feeling depleted time and again from seeking outside approval, I decided that this
was not how I wanted to live my life and I was done with it.

This realization became my fundamental building blocks for a powerful inner beauty. Through this change in my thought process, I was able to create a mental barrier against negative energies that had previously blocked my inspiration and happiness. I made the conscious decision to choose my happiness and health, and to live my life through an authentic, and beautiful inner soul.

I donʼt believe we were intended to live our lives carelessly at the expense of others. Rather, I believe we have been gifted a heart and soul to nurture and love so that we can fulfill a truly gratifying existence.

Tip to block out the negative vibes:

Creating a mental bubble around myself is the easiest way for me to create an impervious blockade against negative vibes that are bound and determined to lower my positive energy. By establishing this kind of forcefield, you are preparing yourself to confront negativity without allowing your inner peace to be sacrificed in the process.

There is a beautiful quote by Audrie Hepburn that Iʼd like to share. Itʼs incredibly inspiring and respectful, and I feel that it reflects the pursuit of inner beauty quite perfectly….

‘For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed. Never throw out anybody. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows.’ – Audrie Hepburn

The Inner Beauty of Healing

by: Zera McMahon

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Living with an eating disorder hardly qualifies as ‘living’ at all in my mind. It’s a torturous state of existence that torments your mind, body and soul. Anyone who is familiar with the agony of an ED, is very familiar with the privation of life surrounding them. Unfortunately it can be a lifelong battle fought only in private silence. At least that is what I have experienced during my struggle with anorexia, which began in the 7th grade.

I am now 27 years old, and sharing my story for the first time.

Before now, anorexia has been a part of my existence that I have greatly attempted to shield and draw a curtain over. It was an extremely dark and painful time in my life, and I was always so ashamed to ever reach out to anyone about it.  It wasn’t easy to admit that so much of my focus was on outer beauty and the way I wanted others to see me.

However, my experience with anorexia wasn’t JUST the desire to be skinny. Of course, I wanted to be thin…I wanted to be painfully thin,  yet the reasoning behind this disease went much deeper than the hunger to be thin, and ultimately I do feel that it could have been prevented. These deep-rooted issues encompass a range of concerns I believe many people are faced with on a daily basis, such as media, social and peer pressures. Additionally, the lack of kindness and compassion in this world also serves as a huge trigger for many.

I remember middle school being a very volatile stage growing up. School for me was never enjoyable, socially nor academically. One of my biggest struggles was feeling so inherently different from my peers. I was born with clubbed feet and musculature issues that prevented me from participating in school athletic programs, which gave students the motive to label me as ‘weird’. I desperately wanted to look beautiful, to be the A student, to be the girl who was asked to school dances, to compete in sports, etc. The list goes on. Middle school was a time when the cliques of friends were being established, girls got their periods, and school dances were unfortunately (for me) a reality! I did not have many friends and the few I did have I quickly lost to my eating disorder. Anorexia was after all, the only friend I had grown to want or need. At first, it was my little secret, and that was thrilling to me to have something no one else knew about or to my knowledge, had.

The first time I remember making the decision to restrict food was at school lunch. There was a girl who sat at the lunch table with me who thought she was doing me a favor by advising I lose just a few pounds. How kind. Since I was unable to compete in sports, I thought the quickest way for me to lose the weight I so clearly needed to lose, was to starve myself. When this vicious cycle began, I restricted my food intake to only one meal a day…dinner. I chose this one meal as dinner, because it was the one meal I ate in front of my family. Because this was my secret, it was imperative that no one find out. Mind you, while making the conscious decision to restrict my food intake, I never once considered myself anorexic. That is, until I decided to restrict my food intake even more. After a couple weeks of being on my new “diet” of eating only once a day, I had begun to lose a couple pounds. Not enough pounds, though, for anyone to take notice.

So, I ramped it up a bit and began going an entire day without any food. At home, I’d be completely panic stricken about the notion of eating dinner in front of my family. Hours in school that should have been spent studying, I spent obsessively fabricating excuses to avoid eating dinner. My family eventually caught on to my behaviors, and began using threats to get me to eat. Nonetheless, I refused my body of any food. This rapidly became my addiction, and I consistently wanted more and more. Fundamentally what I was really displaying was my desire to exist less and less. One day without food quickly doubled, and soon I was surviving off of a menial amount of food every three days. By the third day, I would feel incredibly weak and dehydrated, to the point where I would begin black out in class just sitting at my desk. This occurred more than once throughout middle school and high school. I’d have to feel my way out of the classroom and then lay on my back along the side of the hallway. When the bell would ring, it was if no one noticed me and students would rush around the hall to get to their classes, while I just laid there unable to stand up. Finally, a teacher came to get me with a wheel chair and took me to the office to phone my parents. Sometimes I wonder how different my story might have been if a random act of kindness was gifted to me on those dark days. It could’ve changed my direction and story completely.

Unfortunately, this mental and physical addition went on for years and years. I felt completely detached from my parents as they continuously buried their fears and avoided the major issue at hand. The family dynamics in my household were unbalanced, and mental abuse was a part of my day-to-day existence. I was left feeling inadequate, and without the tools to love and respect myself as an individual. Seeking constant fulfillment from my family and peers at school was my way of determining my own self-worth.

In the middle of the night during the summer of my 9th grade, by some miracle I had a sort of epiphany, and suddenly knew that if I continued to choose anorexia as the most important part of myself, then I would undoubtedly die. My life had become a pathetic state of existence, and it was in fact, really void of any life at all. Even though I was so incredibly ill both mentally and physically, I knew I had to put an end to this. I wanted anorexia to get the fuck out of me! In order to heal the fragile skeleton everyone saw me as, I had to work from the inside out, from the core of my being.

Anorexia has not only robbed five years of my life, taken my friends away when I needed them most, damaged my health to the point of near liver failure, but also robbed me of my identity. With the help of two incredible psychologists and a nutritionist, I have been able to recapture and embrace this gift of life. I feel truly blessed to have been able to separate my own mind from the death grip of the ED. Recovery from anorexia has been a long and challenging process, and will require a lifetime commitment from me. The ED is always lingering in the background, waiting to swoop in again…but I refuse to give it any power. It takes great courage to really own your life, without letting media and peer pressures dictate your self-worth.

A good friend once said to me, “acting with self-love is never selfish”. This is such a profound statement to me, because it signifies my evolution from violent self-hatred to self-love and fulfillment. This miraculous transformation has given me confidence to recognize and nurture the talent and beauty within myself rather than seeking OUTER BEAUTY.

As I’ve grown with such mindfulness, I have been able to cultivate my own passions instead of focusing on the perfect body image. As a result, I’ve learned aspects of fashion and design which I have embraced and evolved into my own business. ZERA Couture celebrates the inner beauty of women with luxurious headpieces and accessories, focusing on the adornment of the head-space inside and out. The creation of these headpieces was born from the realization that women should be revered as the strong and beautiful individuals that we positively are. This business is fueled and Inspired by my journey towards healing – and i’ve never felt more beautiful on the INSIDE because of it.

If I were to say just one thing to someone struggling with an ED, it would be this…FOCUS on your INNER BEAUTY – not on what you’ll wear or how your makeup matches up to all the tutorials you see online everyday or how your body compares to your friends. Focus on the things in this world that truly matter and offer fulfillment. If you do, you will be the most beautiful and powerful true self that you could ever hope for.

Lastly, if you know someone who is suffering with some form of addiction, don’t ignore them. Don’t allow them to sit in the hallways and feel unseen. A random act of kindness in showing that you give a damn can go a long way. Sometimes though, you don’t always know who is silently suffering with their own forms of depression and loneliness which is why being kind should become a way of life. If we all pay it forward when something kind happens for us, we have the chance to start a huge wave of change in the world. Make it part of your daily routine to do something kind for a stranger starting today. You never know what that person is going through. You may have just changed the direction of their story…

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Enough

by: Brittany Winston

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“Brittany get up, you need to go run.” This is how most of my mornings started off at 5:15am when my mother would wake me up and make me go for a run before school. On the weekends it was 5:00am to go hiking. Being a child and teenager, I would grumble in my head and be so exasperated at these early morning wakeups, but it was more than the early wakeup times that upset me.

The reason she woke me up so early everyday was so that I wouldn’t become “fat”.

I was always told that I had a predisposition to be heavy and if I didn’t “stay on top of it” I would be overweight. From the moment I hit puberty I developed hips, thighs and a booty even though I was a runner and extremely active. I was taught that my curves weren’t beautiful and that I shouldn’t want to have a big butt or hips. So much focus was on my appearance.

When I was in high school I didn’t realize the effect my “outer beauty” was having on my confidence and personality. I retreated more and more into a shell of self-doubt and low self-esteem because of my curves. I never felt that I was enough; pretty enough, thin enough, tall enough (all I was focusing on what my outer beauty traits.) And when it came to boys, it was even worse. Anytime I received any attention from a guy I always thought
to myself, “why me, what does he SEE?”

I didn’t stop to think of the other non-physical attributes and traits I had to offer someone.

I made poor decisions on how far I went with a boy because I thought it was the only way to keep him around. I told myself, “he can’t really want me. I’m not skinny and I’m not that pretty. If I don’t do this, he will leave me.”

I was constantly starving for physical attention and outer acceptance.

When I started college it got even worse because I started to get a lot of consistent attention for my outer “looks and figure”, and it hit me like a ton of bricks in the worst way. I didn’t know what was going on. I still had the internal feeling of “why me, I’m not enough.”

Yet still, I flourished in a totally superficial way.

I dated men with money and status, I partied and I made it appear as though I was thoroughly and genuinely enjoying my life. I looked happy from the outside, but I was empty and depressed on the inside. There were so many times I cried myself to sleep at night but then would go to work and school with a smile on my face pretending I was okay.

Actually, I even started losing weight because the depression stopped me from mustering up the energy to eat!

I didn’t run anymore because I associated it with punishment, I drank too much and when I did eat, I ate like crap. Plain and simple, I wasn’t happy and everywhere that I was looking for happiness was on the OUTSIDE – and it was superficial and empty, no matter how much attention I received.

Desperate for a cure to my depression, I made an abrupt move across the country and changed my surroundings entirely. But still, the depression continued to haunt me.

I considered ending my life.

But then my moment of clarity came when I realized I didn’t care what people thought about the way I LOOKED, and that my INNER BEAUTY was more than enough to deserve all this love and attention.

I realized I had a lot to love from within! I love that I have an awesome sense of humor, I’m quirky, I love to read and travel the world – and I can think of no better place to spend a warm day than outside soaking in the sun and enjoying nature. I think these are just a few of the many things that make me pretty darn amazing on the INSIDE, and that’s where it counts.

Through first mastering the art of self-acceptance and inner healing, I began to embrace, accept and LOVE my outer beauty too! Living in the south helped me appreciate my body type, so I even began to do plus size modeling! I love being a plus size model because I pray some little girl or woman will see me and realize there is more than one type of physical beauty. I hope it helps lead others to healing and loving themselves just as they are and not comparing themselves to images in magazines and billboards. It is so disheartening to see what society and media does to little girls from an early age… just like it did to me. So much is based on OUTER BEAUTY and it’s an unattainable standard of beauty and body image. It makes me want to cry.

Naturally, I still need to remind myself every now and then that there’s so much more to life than having the “perfect body.” Beauty fades and no two women are just alike on the outside anyways. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Depression has no stereotype on who it attacks. And despite working in a stereotypically “superficial industry”, I’ve learned so much about self-love and self-worth from so many women I’ve encountered.

We should all be a team and help one another to remember what’s most important in life – and that’s inner happiness and inner beauty.

“A woman’s beauty should be that of [her] inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Peter 3:4

Today, I know that I am ENOUGH. And that’s worth being alive for.